International cooperation on competition enforcement
In today’s globalised world, it is common for undertakings to operate in several countries. It also means that conduct that violates competition rules frequently take place across national borders. That is why we need to cooperate on our enforcement with competition authorities in other countries, especially within the EU.
The national competition authorities within the EU and the European Commission have built up a network for cooperation and information exchange. This network is called the European Competition Network (ECN).
The purpose of the network is to ensure that the EU’s common competition rules are applied in a similar way throughout the EU, thus promoting well-functioning markets. We also cooperate within the Nordic region through a Nordic cooperation agreement. We use the EU’s competition rules and Swedish competition rules in parallel.
Help in investigations
Competition authorities in the EU and the Nordic countries have the right to actively assist each other in investigations, including by conducting interviews, issuing injunctions and executing dawn raids.
For example, we can ask the competition authority in Germany or Norway to carry out dawn raids on our behalf, in order to help us in our investigations. Similarly, we can help the European Commission and our sister authorities with actions here in Sweden when they are investigating suspected competition violations.
We can also share classified information securely within the ECN network and our Nordic cooperation and use these data as evidence. This helps to ensure effective cooperation and allows us to apply the competition rules in the best possible way in our enforcement work.
Consultation with the European Commission
We must consult the European Commission every time we render a decision, for example an administrative fine for undermining competition or the approval of an undertaking’s commitments in which we apply the EU’s competition rules.
The Commission must ensure that EU’s competition rules are applied in a similar manner, and consultation is a means of achieving this. Through consultation with the Commission, we also further safeguard the quality of our decisions.
Distribution of cases within the EU
The ECN network has a system in place to ensure that cases are handled by the competition authority best suited to investigate a suspected restriction of competition. The competition authorities inform each other at an early stage of all new cases in which we apply the EU’s competition rules and distribute the cases amongst themselves.
We can redistribute cases within the ECN if it turns out that another authority is more appropriate to investigate the case. Sometimes a case is investigated by several competition authorities in parallel, working in close cooperation with each other. The Commission usually investigates suspected violations affecting competition in more than three Member States.
Service and recovery
The competition authorities in the EU can help each other to serve undertakings with important documents, such as formal suspicions of violations and documents regarding the enforcement of a decision. Similarly, we can help each other to enforce final decisions within each Member State.